Frequently Asked Questions

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 2002 13:07:10 -0700
From: "Nate Meng" <>

Dear Rudi,

I am a bass player living in Los Angeles, CA. I have been checking out a lot of bass sites lately and stumbled onto yours. I have a question which I'm trying to find an answer to. I play for a couple of bands, and play out quite a bit.
I play a bit harder than a lot of guys I listen to, and the fingers on my right hand blister and peel quite often. I don't really know any bass players who play in the style that I do, but I thought that you might know if either i'm drastically doing something wrong...or if there is some sort of quick healing thing that bass players use. Thank you in advance for your response.

-Nate Meng

Hi Nate,

In my experience, the only times that I've ever had, (or seen other have) blisters and or have calluses peal off, is when a new / deeper into the finger picking stroke is suddenly used in excess. Like when you first started playing or began using a new technique.

For example way back when I first began learning upright bass, I lost a couple of calluses due to plucking harder and making contact with the skin further up my finger than my existing calluses. A blister then can form and work its magic under your callous and you loose 1/8th" inch slabs of skin off the tips of your fingers. The same thing frequently happens with any new continuous friction on any part of your flesh.

If you have anything in the way of hard calluses on your hand where you make contact with the string, you should not be loosing calluses or blistering. Something is very wrong if you are having such symptoms, if you have been playing for years using the same technique.

Even if you are playing harder than your usual approach, you can easily make your finger tips sore and extremely sensitive, but blistering in that scenario should not occur.

I would have to see you play to be able to help any more.

good luck,

Rudi Weeks

Hi Rudi,

Just a quick note to say "Hello" and to share the fact that I've been working with the exercises in your book. I'm feeling a difference in my playing and it is now becoming kind of fun to work with the metronome, real slow (like 44bpm).

After the 30 minutes of daily drills I play along with CD's and find, surprise, my playing is better.

Of most importance has been your instructions for holding the bass - all six or so pages worth. I've yet to find anything else that is as comprehensive about holding the bass.

I've also discovered the miracle of keeping four fingers on the fret board (or hovering anyway).

Amazingly, I've found my right-hand playing to be rather inconsistent - I've never noticed this for 3yrs, and the drills have brought attention to this. I thought alternating two fingers would be easier than this. I'm sure buttoning-down the two-finger technique will help me in skipping strings, in moving toward another string just a little bit earlier than I have been.

OK, that's it for now. I just wanted to let you know I've heeded your advice and it is working for me. I'm planning to keep in touch, and once I know I can stick to 2 or 3 months of daily drills (along with playing for fun), I will be ready to talk about signing up for lessons.

Thanks for your help so far!

Hi David,

It sounds like you are doing many of the right things to develop your playing. Re: Is it "worth our time" to do lessons. I would say there is never a wrong time. Many of the subtleties and approaches that best support personal development on your instrument can only be perceived in person. I do however encourage all new incoming students to make efforts to integrate the left and right hand techniques on pg.'s 16 - 28, by applying them to the chromatic exercise pg.'s 120 - 122, in "Encyclopedia of Bass Logic" Start very slowly and systematically read and apply the hand position rules as you work the exercise. Once the "dust begins to settle" on technique, be sure to use
your metronome and start to apply:
1 stroke per note.
2 strokes per note.
3 strokes per note.
4 strokes per note.
(while maintaining one note/pitch per click).

Good luck, feel free to give me a call if you have any further questions.


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